Friday, 20 December 2013

Be careful with wood shavings

We would like to remind rabbit owners, following some cases of suspected problems with shavings recently, that there are some known problems with shavings as bedding. They can on occasion be eaten, and are indigestible, potentially blocking the gut. This is much less likely to occur if lots and lots of fresh, palatable hay or forage is provided. Also, very strongly scented shavings eg pine or cedar can contain high levels of irritant resins which can cause lung damage, or liver toxicity

Friday, 25 October 2013

When your rabbit stops eating

When your rabbit stops eating is vital to get to a vet asap. Blood tests (to establish if it is a blockage or if it is a stasis instead ) and x-rays can be vital in making a rapid diagnosis of the problem causing your rabbit to stop eating and passing faeces. Carried out early on, they may help to prevent your rabbit's condition deteriorating, and may save its life. Every case, every rabbit is different, and it is difficult to suggest strict guidelines for how to treat a rabbit who is not eating, in advance. Syringe feeding ( water or recovery food) a rabbit with a blockage will not help and could in fact worsen the problem, so although it is tempting to avoid the stress of a trip to the vet and start to syringe feeding and giving medications at home, it is not advised. The decision to syringe feed water or recovery diets depends on a number of factors. Generally speaking, if the rabbit takes them readily, then it is unlikely there is a gastrointestinal blockage. But if there is a blockage, adding anything to the stomach, and delaying veterinary diagnosis and treatment may be fatal. We would therefore advise anyone with a rabbit who stops eating, to contact their vets asap, and to take their advice. If a stasis has been diagnosed then pain relief and syringe feeding are vital. The cause of the stasis needs to be established also, as this is often a sign of a rabbit who requires dental treatment, or pain relief for another condition, for example. A good rule of thumb is 30 to 50 ml per kilogram bodyweight, over a 24 hour period. This total amount can be divided into any number of smaller feeds eg every 1-3 hours, with a break, for owner and rabbit, for some part of the night. If your rabbit is eating anything at all, this amount can be reduced accordingly. We often hear that owners have been advised to give their rabbits Infacol in the case of a statis. Although Infacol is unlikely to cause problems if used in rabbits we do not feel that it is useful. Rabbits can not burp, so although it may gather the gas together, it is still stuck.

What to do if your bunny gorges on something...

There was a question posted earlier this week about a bunny who had escaped and eaten some fallen pears. Many of us have found bunny break outs where they have managed to gorge on their pellets or greens. If this happens, there is the risk of bacterial overgrowth and bloating. Make sure that the rabbit is eating lots of hay and you could add give some probiotics, and fluids if there is any diarrhoea. If you are at all worried then of course you should go to your rabbit savvy vet who may prescribe metronidazole and or questran.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Special offer from Home and Roost

Winter is drawing closer and thoughts are turning to keeping those outdoor bunnies safe, warm and dry for the winter whilst still allowing them to exercise every day. With this in mind we have teamed up with Home and Roost, who we are delighted to announce are the latest retailer to sign up to the A Hutch is Not Enough Retailer Charter. Home and Roost have put some brilliant deals together just for us, so if you are looking for new accommodation for your buns then please check them out. Existing RWA members get an extra £10 off this promotion and non-members get a free 12 month membership thrown in. We are delighted that Home and Roost are offering RWA membership with their hutches and runs because it means we can reach even more people about what rabbits need to live the lives they deserve. We have tested these hutches and runs and we are confident that they offer good quality and value for money and Home and Roost offer a 30 day satisfaction money back guarantee too. The special offers are here (You can add a run to each offer): If you are an existing RWA member please use the discount code RWAF6.

Thursday, 12 September 2013


We attended the Manchester Pet show last weekend as part of our efforts to educate the public on what rabbits need to lead the lives they deserve. We had been in communication with the organisers beforehand because we had concerns that breeders were going to be in attendance using the dreadful show cages. This was not a breeders’ show, it was for the public, and we were keen to stress that rabbits being displayed in small show cages does not set a good example for anyone owning, or thinking of owning, rabbits. We asked that there would be NO traditional breeders’ cages at the event, and that floor pens would be used, with bolt holes provided so the rabbits would have somewhere to go to relieve the stress of being in a noisy environment with large crowds of people. We also provided text for posters that the organisers agreed to display around the breeders’ area to advise the public that these were breeding displays and that pet rabbits should not be kept in these conditions. We were given assurances that all of our requests would be met. Upon arrival on the day before the show it became clear that the reassurances were not valid and that the rabbits would be exhibited in show cages. We once again spoke to the organisers, were told that some floor pens would be provided for the show, and that the rabbits would be rotated so none spent the whole weekend in a show cage. On the morning of the show only one small floor pen was provided, in which was housed a single giant rabbit, and the rabbits were not rotated. We were bitterly disappointed that we were misled by the organisers. As a damage limitation exercise, we hastily cobbled together some handwritten signs to try and make the point to the visitors that rabbits need space, exercise and companionship but were devastated not only for those rabbits being kept in unsatisfactory conditions at the show but also for the message it sent out to the public. The last straw was when it became clear that the breeders were ‘trancing’ rabbits (holding them on their back which induces tonic immobility, a stressed and panic state in which the rabbit plays dead) for the amusement of the visitors. We were disgusted by this and complained immediately, and it was stopped. However, we fear that anybody coming away from that show who saw it happening will think it’s an acceptable practice. So, please share this poster which makes the point that trancing rabbits is hugely stressful for the animals, not at all fun and not something that should be carried out. Please see our blog for more details on trancing.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Tonic Immobility

Tonic Immobility, often referred to as "Trancing" or "Hypnotising", is a technique for handling rabbits that has been around for many years. It takes advantage of the rabbits' tendency, as a prey species, to "play dead" and stay immobile when placed in a vulnerable position, on its back. In studies, behavioural observation (facial expression, ear position etc) and physiological monitoring (heart rate and stress hormone levels) suggest that the rabbits are both well aware of their surroundings, and are exhibiting a fear response rather than being calmed by the position. It is also very important to note that, even if they do not react, they are still perfectly capable of feeling pain. Although the resulting immobility makes procedures easier for the owner, and repeated use appears to make it easier to perform in the rabbit, it is not good welfare practice to use this technique in prey species. There are some circumstances (for example, non painful procedures such as radiography in sick rabbits with possible gastrointestinal obstruction), where it can allow diagnostic xrays to be taken, and it can then literally be a lifesaver to have the option. However, this should be as a last resort, and not as part of a routine groom or check up. For these reasons, the RWAF does not recommend its use for grooming purposes.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Worming advice

The RWAF does not advocate regular use of worming products for rabbits, ie every quarter, as is recommend for cats and dogs for example. However their are times when the use of 9 day courses might be helpful: 1 to reduce the risk of infection at that specific time (as in the study) eg around introduction for short periods of time eg mating, as per the Suter paper. 2 To suppress chronic infections and reduce the signs associated with them. This is not backed up by any scientific studies, but it is often reported by rabbit owners that improvement occurs within a few days of regular periodic treatments. This could be coincidental, or due to other factors, but requires more work to investigate. 28 day courses are generally advised for animals with clinical signs of infection, as this is the only regime investigated for treatment. It is important to combine this with regular effective cleaning of the environment, especially towards the end of the treatment course, and concurrent treatment of all in-contact rabbits, to avoid re-infection with spores. Anecdotally, some people have found that 42 day courses have been more effective than 28 day courses in clearing EC. This may be due to longer persistence of the organisms in the animal, or the environment, or inadequate hygiene measures. In any case, it is vital to combine treatment with daily cleaning of the environment, in particular, prevention of urine and faeces contamination of food and water, to prevent re-infection by other rabbits or themselves. Longer than 28 day, or repeat courses should only be carried out under the direction of your veterinary surgeon and should not be recommended as standard as they have not been proven to be safe at this point. The RWAF stresses that it is more important to avoid re-infection during treatment than to give a course longer than 28 days.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Burr - don't clip teeth!

Incisor (front teeth) dental problems are extremely common in rabbits. Many rabbits need dental treatment throughout their life but we want to remind you that teeth should never be clipped, they should always be burred. Clipping damages the tooth roots and can worsen the problem, and is also painful for the rabbit. Clipping is an out dated procedure, if your rabbit is going to have a dental please check that the vet is going to burr the spur and not clip it.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Thank you to all of our supporters!

Isn't it great how much people will do to support our work? This weekend vets Orlaith and Sara of Ani Medics Veterinary Centre in Taunton will be doing a triathlon for us. Here's their fundraising page. Good Luck Orlaith and Sara! RWA member Rosa Nation will be doing a hutch sit-in for us and Havens Gate Rescue Centre at Monkton Elm Garden Centre in Taunton on 24th, so if you are there please go along and support her. She has just been on BBC Radio 2! Next month James Fairman, who did the Great North 10K last year, is stepping things up and doing the Great North Run for the RWAF. This is his funraising page. North of the border, Abbie Fear ran the Edinburgh Marathon. Her fundraising page is still open here James Brockwell has raised funds from a dress-down day at work and also a Guess the Toddler competition, and a Bring and Buy sale. Here is his page Sammy Keetley's rabbit Harry inspired to start her fundraising page Lisa Jobling was brave enough to do a sky dive to raise funds for us Mary Wood trekked up Mount Snowdon Kimberley Smith set up a page to raise funds...sadly despite her efforts, her page has been missed..would you be the first to make a donation? Likewise Irene Coggi whose page was set up in honour of her bunny Skunk. She ran the Edinburgh Marathon last year. Our own Natalie Constance has set up a page too and that's here And as well as these fundraisers, we must remember that it was members of the public inspired by their efforts or their stories who made donations to help us with our work. We want to say a big thank you to all of those who have done the fundraising and to those who donated funds.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Neuter your bunnies!

Say Hello to Jolly - she is around 7 months old, and had a poor start to life as many rabbits do, but she was taken in to our care and is now looking forward to her new life as a housebunny with her new family and husbun very soon. We always advocate neutering male and female bunnies for health and behavioural reasons and because they must be neutered to live together in harmony. We often quote the figure of 80% of female rabbits developing uterine cancer before they are 4 years old if they are not speyed. Jolly was also developing common hormonal aggression behaviours, such as attacking anything that entered her territory, even food! So, she was spayed last week and it was no surprise to us to hear that she already had 3 cysts. The wonderful Orlaith at Ani Medics in Taunton had this to say: "'Jolly came in to be spayed, and even though she was still young at 7 months she had already developed signs of biting. We always advise to neuter from 4 months on. Unneutered rabbits have up to an 80% chance of developing uterine cancer in later years and also risk pyometra which is a nasty infection of the uterus. Furthermore unspayed females become aggressive and territorial. Little Jolly had developed two cysts on her right ovary and one on her left. This was probably contributing to her sudden change in behaviour. Now that these are removed hopefully she will return to being a happy hopper! Other risks associated with a rabbit that is not neutered include false pregnancy, ovarian tumours, uterine aneurysm (blood filled uterus) and of course unwanted pregnancy. Jolly was very happy to go home eating all her favourite hay and some tasty dandelions. " So - please remember to neuter your rabbits - and please share to make others aware - thank you

Can you spare £1?

We had a very busy day on the helpline yesterday. The helpline is a lifeline for people who have nowhere else to turn for help or advice – often in situations where rabbit owners find themselves in a position that they are unable to deal with. Yesterday we spoke to a lady who had taken on a rabbit from a neighbour who was not looking after it properly - an all too common situation. The lady in question had been fortunate enough to secure a rescue space for the bunny next week but in the meantime the rabbit has become ill and her own vet had given poor advice so we intervened and had the rabbit admitted to one of the vets on our ‘rabbit friendly’ list for assessment. Happily the rabbit is reported to be doing well this morning and we hope she can go through the rescue and hopefully face a better future. The next call was from a man who has been left to take care of 11 abandoned rabbits, some of whom are pregnant. We are liaising with rescues in his area to try and find space and we will also help towards neutering costs. Sadly, this is not an unusual day, and these are just two of many calls of this nature. We can’t always help, but we do our best to make a difference wherever we can, and this end of things is merely ‘firefighting’ and sits alongside all the long term work we do to try and stop the casual neglect and cruelty that domestic rabbits suffer. We don’t like to ask for money but if you can help us with just a small donation it would go a long way. If everyone who is subscribed to this page gave just £1 it would make a tremendous difference at a time when funds are running low. You can donate by text, for example “RWAF11£1” or “RWAF11£5” to 70070 or can donate by paypal to Or you could follow this link: Thank you so much

Friday, 26 July 2013

Statement from The RWAF

Thank you to everyone that sent messages and support last weekend. We were very busy at The Stoneleigh Pet Show, but we did try to keep on top of everything else. We are often unable to answer posts on facebook quickly because of our numerous other commitments. Last week, amongst other things, we: - Sent a detailed communication to a vet who had inspected what we considered to be very poor standards at a rabbit breeder and found everything to be toward, and cc'd the breeders club and the BRC. No reply, we will follow it up this week. - within a short time of seeing the images on Facebook of Crealy had phoned a senior manager at Crealy and discussed our concerns, and followed it up with an e-mail proposing the ways in which we think Crealy can not just rectify the problems that have been reported, but actually become an example to their visitors of good rabbit care. We are looking forward to further discussions and hope we can start moving things in the right direction. - followed up a complaint that we had made a few weeks earlier to a professional body about a mobile petting zoo that has been travelling its pet rabbits not only for about 2 hours each way, but within the same vehicle as predators, which must be horribly stressful. Again, we will keep close to that situation. - liaised with other charities on various matters concerning rabbits. - contacted several retailers and manufacturers about the A Hutch Is Not Enough campaign - replied to a BBC reporter about various rabbit subjects, and as a result, information was posted on the BBC website. - did a live BBC Radio Scotland interview. We also - set up and attended a 2 day pet show and spoke to thousands of visitors about rabbits and how to care for them, - manned the helpline, - replied to hundreds of e-mails, - designed and released the 'Hay' poster, - drafted a new poster and a press release, - followed up another complaint about a school in Bristol which is not keeping its rabbits in good conditions, - did the same with a garden centre in Sussex. Every RWAF committee member is in some way personally involved with rescuing rabbits from unspeakable situations. We just don't make a public song and dance about it. In fact, we don't shout about any of these things, and we'll explain why below. Over the past 3 years, we have liaised with dozens of retailers, and resulting from that a lot of small hutches have been removed from sale, a lot of care information on websites has been updated, a lot of 6ft and larger hutches and exercise runs are now for sale. By working with manufacturers, it is finally possible for any retailer in the UK to source a 6ft hutch and exercise run if they want to. We are regularly in the trade press driving home the 'A Hutch Is Not Enough' message to retailers, and this in turn means that some retailers are driving this message to their customers. We have started to lay very strong foundations for the retail industry to be able to make improvements. We are working on several big projects at the moment that we are not able to discuss either because they involve other organisations, or because they are sensitive and we are not yet in a position to discuss them publicly, as it could jeopardise the results. We know it is a big ask, but please trust that we are working flat out to improve things and we hope to be able to give our members and supporters more information on the projects soon. At all times we behave in a professional manner and aim to work with organisations where possible. No matter how far apart our ethics may seem, we try to find common ground, because we have found that this is the best way to make permanent improvements in the long term. It may take us time to do our research, get our facts right, consult with experts and form a reply, but in our experience that is better than publicly and aggressively attacking an organisation and then expecting that organisation to be cooperative in future. We are very aware of some of the comments that have been made about the RWAF, by the same few usual suspects, and we find it shameful that some people would take opportunities like that to have a swipe at the RWAF, without themselves knowing the full facts, and even making false accusations at times. We look forward to hearing what results they achieve using their own techniques, and we wish them well. We are working with lots of other like minded organisations and we are very comfortable with what we are doing. Everyone is welcome on our Facebook page. We want it to be a welcoming place to share advice and support. But please do not come on to The RWAF page just to cause trouble: we have a job to do, so we can not monitor the Facebook page constantly, and we will have no option other than to remove people who appear only to post on the page to cause disruption rather than to give advice. If this applies to you, please direct your hostility and energy at the people who don't have rabbit welfare on their agenda. We have maintained a dignified silence until now, but we have been contacted by supporters who have been very upset by comments they have seen on our page and elsewhere, so at their request, and for the record: * We do not support rabbits being locked in hutches - not even 6ft hutches. Outdoor rabbits should have at the very least a safe hutch and exercise run at all times so that they can exercise or shelter as they please and follow their own natural behaviour pattern. Indoor rabbits should have an equivalent amount of secure space. * We do not support breeders and we do support rescue, very much so - we have run a 'Sponsor A Rescue' scheme for many years and raised lots of money for rabbit rescue centres. However, we believe it is entirely unrealistic to suggest that all rabbit breeding will stop, and given that is the case, we have a policy regarding how we think it should be done, and we firmly believe that if that were followed, it would result in improvements in rabbit welfare. That does not mean that we support breeders, nor anyone pays the membership fee, and frankly such claims are libellous. Anyone is welcome to join and receive Rabbiting On magazine. It is a useful resource and the more people who are educated by it and enjoy it the better. Like it or not, that is how change for the better happens. We get a lot of feedback where people improved their rabbits' lives after reading our Make It Right pages or Rabbiting On. * Membership subscription to the Rabbit Welfare Association (RWA) is just that - it covers the cost of producing and distributing Rabbiting On magazine every quarter. It does not go towards the campaigning and educational activities of the Rabbit Welfare Fund (RWF), and funds for the 2 are totally separate. * Anyone can have information from our vet list. At present you need to phone or email us (we will not ask whether or not you are a member) but when our new website is launched, the information will all be there so that whoever needs it can have it. If you would like to keep up to date with our campaign updates they are added to our website: We believe that it is essential to behave at all times professionally, and so we will not be directing negative comments at any other groups. We would however ask that if any interested party wishes to establish the true facts about the RWAF, they contact us directly rather than giving any credence whatsoever to anything they might read on line, other than what you see posted by us, on our Facebook page, on our website or on Twitter. We are a very small committee and we have very limited resources, we simply don’t have time to keep fighting our corner. All we want to do is help rabbits. Thanks for taking the time to read this. We hope all your buns are keeping cool in this crazy heat! Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Don't forget the petitions!

There are 2 rabbit petitions live at the moment that need 100,000 votes and are both standing at around 2000. So they need YOU to sign them and share them. Rabbits are constantly reported as the most neglected pets in the UK - left in hutches to live alone. This has got to change, so we are hoping that all rabbit lovers in the UK will spare a few minutes to sign both petitions and share them. Rabbits Require Rights are campaigning hard for better welfare standards for rabbits in Scotland. They are petitioning for legislation to be introduced to offer more protection to our favourite animals. The RWAF is fully supportive of more legislation. Please sign their petition here: Camp Nibble is a rescue centre based in Leeds, who see a constant stream of neglected and unwanted rabbits. They desperately want to see this change. They are petitioning for Codes of Practice for rabbits in England. Signing this petition would show the legislators the strength of feeling and support for improved rabbit welfare in England.

Interview with BBC Radio Scotland

Reposting this following our interview on BBC Scotland this morning: Many people are surprised at how much it costs to properly care for two rabbits, so here is some information that everyone who is considering getting a rabbit should read before they take the plunge. Unlike Cats and Dogs which are not usually available from pet shops, rabbits are readily available and can be bought on impulse, without the full facts being known. It is not acceptable to keep a single rabbit confined to a hutch, yet it happens all too often, making rabbits the most neglected pets in the UK. Please don’t make the same mistake and cause unnecessary suffering. It’s very common that a few months after purchase, the cute fluffy babies are fully grown rabbits and become unwanted, and either end up in rescue, or even worse, neglected at the bottom of the garden. Rabbits should live up to 10 years, but often don’t make it to four because of poor diet and living standards. A hutch simply is not enough – read on to see what rabbits need and how much you should expect to pay. Initial set up costs 2 rabbits £60 - £100 (Rabbits should never be kept alone, they do get lonely) Neutering of 2 rabbits - up to £180 (rabbits need to be neutered to live happily together and prevent accidental litters of rabbits) Hutch / Run / Enclosure - £200 would be the minimum but could be up to £500. (We recommend a 6ft x 2ft x 2ft hutch as a minimum with an attached 8 ft run, and you will really have to be lucky to get this for less than £400) Bedding, bowls etc - £30 Toys £10 Hay / food - £20 Total initial set up costs - allow £930 Then monthly costs of Hay - £15 (if buying pre packed, dust free from pet shops) Good quality food £10 Bedding - £10 Fresh Vegetables - £20 Insurance - £15 Total Monthly costs - £70.00 Per annum this is £840 Then annual costs of 2 x myxi vaccines per year, per bunny - £100 on average 1 x VHD vaccine per annum per bunny - £50 on average 2 weeks in bunny boarding while you have your annual holiday - £70 Total annual costs in addition to usual monthly costs - £220 Added to usual monthly costs per annum the cost is £1060 Dental disease is very common and is very often due to poor diet, e.g. lack of hay, or lack of exercise, i.e. not letting the rabbits out of their hutch, so please don’t think that you can save money by cutting corners, because this usually ends in an ill rabbit and a huge vet bill. Dental procedures can be around £80 per bunny, and are usually avoidable if the diet and accommodation is right. Rabbits should live on average for 10 years, so including the set up costs, to keep 2 rabbits properly will cost you on average over £11,550. Are you sure you still want to buy the children a pet rabbit now?! Cutting corners and doing things on the cheap by keeping one rabbit alone in a small hutch, with a poor diet etc, is not an option that any decent person should consider. If you can’t afford to do it right, then don’t do it at all. There are other animals that may be more suitable . Thousands of rabbits end up in rescue centres every year because children pester their parents for a cute fluffy bunny and then the novelty soon wears off. How many of your children’s toys are they playing with 6 months later? Let alone 12 months, 2 years, 10 years etc. Don’t be another statistic, do it right. You should only consider taking on rabbits if you can put the time to them and give them a life that they deserve - A HUTCH IS NOT ENOUGH

Friday, 28 June 2013


Are you know how much rabbits LOVE all things green! We're joking of course! We all need to light and heat our homes but we know that pollution from generating electricity is a huge problem. Ecotricity has invited us to work with them to encourage people to change to a greener way of life and we can do that by getting our electricity and gas from them, with RWF getting a commission for everybody who makes the switch. Please look at their credentials, and also their rates, and if you are convinced, use the codes on this page to make the switch today. If you've never switched power companies, don't worry, apart from some very straightforward paperwork, you don't need to do anything else, and there will be no interruption to your supply.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Moore space for pets have joined The RWAF retailer charter

We would also like to welcome Moore Space for pets to The RWAF retailer charter. Mike told us this: I set up my business " Moore Space For Pets" last year with the passion of being able to make high quality yet affordable enclosures and runs which would enable people to give their pets the room they need to be happy and healthy at an affordable price. The welfare of rabbits is very important as is the welfare of every other animal and pet. I think many pet owners need educating regarding the minimum care needed when purchasing animals and to understand they are living creatures and not just cute pets that after time may become a hindrance to families who often regret purchasing them. To educate potential rabbit owners that they need to clean, exercise and interact with their new pets and also follow guidance from the RWAF is of utmost importance when I sell and promote the products a sell. The RWAF recommend a 6ft x 2ft x 2ft hutch with an attached 8ft run as a minimum living area for 2 rabbits. We feel that it is necessary to work with pet shops to change opinion and to work towards more suitable products, and information being accessible to existing and potential rabbit owners as well as members of staff, to promote rabbit welfare.

Rabbit Questionnaire

Rabbit Questionnaire Researcher James Oxley is trying to find out about rabbit-human interaction. He has compiled a survey that aims to help him do that. Please give some of your time to completing either an online version or a downloadable one that can be posted to him once completed. You can complete the survey online here Or download it here

UK Aviaries have joined The RWAF Retailer Charter

The RWAF are delighted to announce another signing to our retailer charter. UK Aviaries have removed their 3ft hutch from sale within 2 hours of our conversation - can't get a quicker response than that! Stuart, who has owned UK Aviaries for the last 9 years, got in touch with us after some feedback from a local rabbit rescue about his rabbit hutches and was actually shocked to learn about the welfare implications of small rabbit hutches and problems that they can cause. We hope that you will support Stuart, and our other charter members when making a purchase. Stuart told us ' I am not a rabbit keeper and I believed that rabbits lived happily in hutches eating carrots all day. Now that I know different I am shocked that hutches that are unsuitable can be sold. UK Aviaries will not be doing this any more because we have signed up to the RWAF Retailer Charter and we are 100% behind the 'A hutch is not enough' campaign. We made the change to range that we offer within hours of talking to RWAF. Although we sell hutches we also sell kennels with runs which make brilliant rabbit accommodation too, and we can offer a discount to any rescue registered as a charity. So if you fancy something a bit different for your rabbits have a look what UK Aviaries can offer. The RWAF recommend a 6ft x 2ft x 2ft hutch with an attached 8ft run as a minimum living area for 2 rabbits. We feel that it is necessary to work with pet shops to change opinion and to work towards more suitable products, and information being accessible to existing and potential rabbit owners as well as members of staff, to promote rabbit welfare.

Rabbits Require Rights petition - please sign!

Please spare a minute to sign this petition from Rabbits Require Rights (Scotland) who are doing a great job of raising awareness of rabbit welfare in Scotland, and have recently met with their MP.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Muesli based diets - new research

Our Veterinary Adviser, Richard Saunders, attended the British Small Animal Veterinary Association annual congress at the weekend, where Professor Anna Meredith revealed the findings of the feeding trial that has been carried out by the University of Edinburgh, FERA (Food and Environment Research Agency, a branch of DEFRA), and Burgess. Previous findings had shown that rabbits only fed muesli became rapidly obese, compared to those on muesli or pellet and hay diets, or hay only diets. The more recent work showed that rabbits which were fed on muesli, with or without hay, developed the first warning signs of dental disease, spent less time in active behaviours (and in some cases chewed flooring materials), and had more uneaten caecotrophs, and abnormally small faecal pellets. They also drank less water, which is an important factor in urinary tract health for rabbits. Full details will emerge as the work is published in the scientific literature, but these findings provide the first scientific proof that hay based diets, with small, carefully measured amounts of extruded pellet tailored to the needs of the pet rabbit, are better for their health than muesli based diets, with or without hay, for many reasons. Vets will be more aware now of these findings, being unveiled at a major vet conference, and aim to spread that information at Rabbit Awareness Week events throughout the country. And Pets at Home have taken the decision to remove muesli based diets from their shelves, a move which is to be welcomed, and to be hoped that other retailers will follow.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Better for lab rabbits, but not back yard bunnies

The Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund (RWAF), the largest charity with the sole aim of improving the lives of pet rabbits in the UK, is delighted by the EU ban on animal testing of cosmetics. The rabbit is closely linked to animal testing, even to the point of being the symbol used on cosmetics packaging, so the charity welcomes this historic move with open arms. But the RWAF is keen to stress that while society is reducing cruelty to animals in some areas, thousands of pet rabbits are still suffering, not only because of lack of knowledge on the part of the owners but also because there is a lack of legislation to protect this much misunderstood pet. RWAF Vet Expert Advisor Richard Saunders said: "Unbelievably, we have more legislation to protect lab rabbits than for pet rabbits. For example, many rabbit hutches are for sale below the legal requirement for lab rabbits. Rabbits are not battery animals. But if a rabbit is confined to a hutch of less than 4ft x 2ft then that's how they're being kept ... in worse conditions than are allowed for lab rabbits." He continued: "The problem rabbits face is that most are kept, as the Victorians kept them, for food - in a hutch for easy access. We are making great steps in some areas of animal welfare but somehow it's still seen as okay to keep an animal that needs to run, jump and dig confined to a hutch, and there's very little protection through the law." The RWAF asks people not to buy a rabbit this Easter and only to take on rabbits if they have looked into everything that's involved. And the RWAF's message to existing owners is simple: find out how you can improve your rabbits' lives by checking out the RWAF website.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013


Rescue centres are often presented with female rabbits that are either pregnant, soon to give birth to many kits, or with a litter already. This is an extra strain on the limited space for rescuing and rehoming rabbits, which can result in many rabbits being euthanased, or left in terrible homes. It is also largely, if not entirely preventable. The main causes of unwanted litters are mis-sexing of a pair of rabbits, and a lack of awareness that rabbits can breed both at a young age, and also immediately after they have given birth. The former is probably the most common situation. Rabbits may be challenging to sex at a young age. They are actually easier to sex when they are only a few weeks old, but at this stage many people are reluctant to handle them, due to the risks of the doe becoming stressed by this, scenting strange smells on the young, and potentially injuring or even killing and eating them. At 8-10 weeks , the most common age to rehome them, they can actually be very difficult to sex, and mistakes may be made. Referring to textbooks, developing experience in sexing them, and asking more experienced people for assistance is helpful at this point. Once the testicles have descended in the males, sexing is easy, but unless they are separated immediately at this stage, mating is possible. It is therefore vital to sex them promptly before 10-12 weeks, and neuter or group them accordingly pending neutering (noting that males will fight with males if housed after sexual maturity). Rabbits may mate whilst pregnant, but whilst European hares are capable of superfetation (the act of carrying a litter of 2 or more different ages, subsequently born at different times), this is thought to be extremely rare indeed in rabbits. It is far more likely that rabbits will mate either on the day of birth, or over the next few days, if left with the buck. Producing milk does not stop them mating and becoming pregnant, at all. If it did, rabbits would only have 1 or 2 litters per year in the wild, whereas they are capable of multiple litters over the summer, and are often bred in captive situations with a litter to litter interval of 35 days. It is therefore possible for a rabbit to mate, carry a litter, and give birth throughout the whole period that they are feeding a litter.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Show your support for A Hutch is not Enough

If you believe that 'A Hutch is Not Enough' you can show you care by signing up and becoming an official supporter of the campaign. You will get an exclusive car sticker that is only available to AHINE supporters .

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Calcium metabolism and Vit D in rabbits

The subject of calcium metabolism, and Vitamin D provision in rabbits (either via the food, or produced by the body in response to sunlight on skin), is not fully understood. Rabbits are crepuscular, and tend only to come out of their burrows in late afternoon/early evening, and return just after dawn. As a result, especially in the UK, which is not their natural environment, and receives less sunlight than Europe, where they originated from, they do not become exposed to high levels of ultraviolet radiation. One study, published in 1999, showed that largely hutch bound rabbits had significantly lower Vitamin D levels than rabbits with ad-lib access to a run. For that reason, amongst many others, hutches are not enough. Indoor rabbits are a more complicated issue. Standard glass does not permit significant amounts of ultraviolet radiation to pass through it, and so indoor rabbits should be similarly deficient to hutch bound rabbits, if this were the only source. However, diet is another source. Selective feeding leads to avoidance of less favoured items, which are often the ones containing vitamin and mineral supplementation. Extruded or compressed pellet diets should be better than this. Sun dried hay is also a good source. however, the exact requirements for dietary vs sunlight produced vitamin D are not fully understood. Whilst indoor rabbits may benefit from exposure to sunlight and fresh air, in an open or mesh topped run, for many reasons, its not currently possible to show that they lack sufficient Vitamin D, without further studies. This also means that at present it is difficult to suggest a suitable amount of time that they should be outside. Its also not currently certain what the effect of any lack of Vitamin D is, as the rabbit is very effective at absorbing Calcium from the diet without it, when dietary calcium levels are reasonable. For these reasons, the best advice we can give is to allow, where possible, and without subjecting the rabbit to too many changes of scene, access to a safe, spacious, and partly sheltered outdoor run area, as part of an outdoor set up. And with indoor rabbits, if possible to do so without subjecting them to contrasting extremes of temperature, to do the same. All rabbits should be fed ad-lib hay and water, and a carefully controlled amount of pelleted food, plus a handful of green leafy vegetation, unless they have particular dietary needs. If your rabbit has problems eating hay, you are advised to visit your vet for a dental examination

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

A hutch is not enough

Our 'A hutch is Not Enough' study showed that even in winter, rabbits prefer the option of being able to exercise outside of their hutch. We've put some tips together here:[1].pdf Outdoor bunny owners - is your hutch attached to your exercise run? Please share your pictures!

Friday, 1 February 2013

The Best of Rabbiting On collection for iPads

We are so excited to announce the launch of The Best of Rabbiting On collection for iPads. It's available now from the App Store for only £2.99 and includes carefully selected articles from Rabbiting On, including some new pieces especially written for this collection and not available elsewhere. By downloading The Best of Rabbiting On you'll be supporting the RWAF and all our welfare work for rabbits. Even if you're already a member you'll find some new information, and if you're not, we're sure you'll find the articles so good, you'll want to join! Or if you're searching through the App store, look in the Lifestyle section for: Rabbiting On – the best of 2012 Android and Kindle users, don't despair, we'll be catering for you as soon as we can! Because all sales go back into helping rabbits, please leave a positive review on the app store to encourage further sales, thanks!

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Bunny Myth Buster - fur coats

Bunny Myth Buster – “They’ve got fur coats so they’re okay in the cold”. Rabbits’ coats obviously do give them some protection against the cold but to say that it makes them immune is like saying a snail can stop a bullet with its shell! In the wild, rabbits live in underground burrows where the temperature changes only slightly between summer and winter. By keeping them above ground we are subjecting them to extreme temperature changes that they’re not designed to cope with. In the wild they share body warmth with the rest of their social group so they’re toasty and snug. Rabbits kept alone will suffer the cold worst of all because they can’t share the lovely warm body of a companion. If you know of anybody who doesn’t bother to take steps to protect their rabbit from the cold because of the “it’s got a fur coat” myth, then please put them straight and direct them to our tips on keeping warm. You will almost certainly be saving the rabbit’s life. That point about sharing body warmth is a great excuse to post a picture of three snuggle-buns!

Friday, 25 January 2013

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Come to the rescue!

It is at this time of year that rabbit rescue shelters can really struggle as they battle to protect their residents from the extreme weather conditions. Any help you can give them will be hugely appreciated and will really help to see them through this difficult time. Why not add spring greens, cabbage or kale to your weekly shop and drop them you’re your local rescue? Or bin bags and kitchen towels always come in handy. You can even help without spending any money as many rescues use old newspapers to line accommodation and help to keep it snug – but please check with the rescue itself before unloading a pile of paper on them! Thanks to all the rescues who do such fantastic work!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Spring 2013 Rabbiting On

It's never too early to think about the spring! The spring edition of Rabbiting On magazine comes rolling off the press next week. It's exclusive to members of the Rabbit Welfare Association so if you join by Thursday (23rd), you'll get the Spring issue straight away. It's packed with features, including: Pain relief in rabbits Rabbits and other pets Handling your rabbits, how when and why How to have a happy house rabbit Spring Tonic Communicating with your rabbit Antibiotics in rabbits It's also bursting with pictures of our favourite pets, including the result of our Bunny of the Year photo contest! If you love rabbits you don't want to miss out, join today!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

What is your Rabbit Resolution?

What’s your Rabbit Resolution? It’s New Year and many of us will be resolving to drink less, stop smoking, get out more or just eat less cake. Whatever you’ve decided to do, good luck with it, we know how hard these resolutions are to stick to. In fact, they say that over 80% fail by the end of January. Why not make a resolution that’s easy to stick to, why not make a Rabbit Resolution? We’re asking our members and Facebook supporters if they can do something very small to help rabbits, who as we know, suffer neglect and cruelty at the hands of owners who simply don’t know any better. What will you do? • Give a home to a rescue rabbit and give your own rabbit a companion into the bargain? • Print off one of our posters and ask your vet to put it up in their waiting room to help get the message to rabbit owners? Click here and go to A4 posters to download on the right hand side of the page. • Write to a pet shop that you know sells tiny rabbit hutches and suggest they improve their range? Click here for some example text for your letter. • Take an RWAF Hop to It booklet to your local vet and encourage them to join? A booklet can be obtained here at a cost of £1 including postage (sadly we have to cover our costs but we hope that won’t put you off). If your vet joins they will receive, amongst other great benefits, 75 Hop to It booklets for their clients. • Something else entirely? Let us know by commenting below. Happy new year everybody!